Jan 06 2014
With a level of violence not seen in Cambodia in 15 years, protests in the capital city of Phnom Penh turned bloody last week as police fired directly into garment workers seeking better wages. Four protesters were killed, at least 20 others injured and more than 20 arrested as police tried to put an end to demonstrations which have been growing since November.
Close to half a million garment workers have walked off the job protesting one of the lowest wages in the developing world. Factory owners balked at raising garment worker’s minimum wages from $80 to $160 a month, and instead offered a meager $20 a month increase. Yet, the garment industry accounts for the largest portion of Cambodia’s economy. Last year Cambodia exported over $5 billion dollars worth of goods to the US and Europe for companies like H&M, GAP and Nike.
Adding to labor tensions is political unrest over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s 28 year dictatorship which has been fraught with corruption and violence. Bitterness over Sen’s questionable “re-election” this past summer led opposition party members to join striking garment workers on December 29th to form the country’s largest mass demonstrations in decades. This past Saturday the government issued a ban on rallies in the capital city of Phnom Penh.
GUEST: Scott Nova, Executive Director of Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe.
Visit www.workersrights.org for more information.